Supporting young Bendigo mums to flourish
The Horizon House Young Mother and Baby Program in Bendigo has only been open for a few months but it has already had a profound impact on the young mums and their babies who are engaged in the service.
The Program supports young mothers to access education opportunities, build strong bonds with their babies, develop essential life skills, reconnect with their families whilst building their social and support networks.
Horizon House Bendigo Young Mother and Baby Program Support Co-ordinator, Linda Robertson said it was extremely rewarding to see how much the young mums’ confidence in their parenting had grown and how that had enhanced their ability to build relationships with their children.
"These young women have come a really long way in a very short time in terms of their confidence and understanding of how to provide the best possible care and environment for their babies," Linda said.
"They have developed their cooking skills and shown a real interest in learning about healthy eating and recipe plans for themselves and their little ones."
"Their household cleaning skills have developed and they are taking great pride in the presentation of the house and care to make sure the common areas are kept clean and tidy for other residents."
"Most of these young women have come from environments where they didn’t have the stability to be able to establish routines but they have come to understand and appreciate how important that is for children and are doing a wonderful job of creating consistent weekly and monthly schedules."
A representative from the local TAFE came to the house earlier this year and ran an information session for the young mums on their options and the education pathways that were available to them. They were able to enrol on the spot and two of the young mums are currently completing their Vcal VCE while another is undertaking a commercial cookery course.
Our caregivers were able to further support the young mums by connecting them with an occasional childcare centre, helping them to complete enrolment paperwork and providing transportation to and from the centre via the house car.
"We also use the house car to take the mums and their babies to and from medical and maternal health appointments and playgroup, which helps them to connect with other local mothers and build social support networks,” Linda said.
One of the mums was supported to get her learner’s permit and is currently learning to drive thanks to the assistance of the Salvation Army’s L to P Program, which Horizon House was able to connect her with.
"Linking into local community groups, support services and events is such a crucial part of the Program" Linda said.
"It’s about helping our mums to gain independence and confidence and importantly, making sure they’re linked in to the services and networks they will need to support them over the long term."
With the support of Horizon House Young Mother and Baby Program, each of the young mums is reconnecting with their family and building strong relationships with each other and our caregivers.
"All these young women were socially isolated when they arrived but providing them with a consistently emotionally and physically safe environment has really given them the security and space they needed to start forming positive relationships," Linda said.
Caregivers have run creative activities for the mums, teaching them to crochet and knit and running a special art activity where each mum was able to capture her baby’s hand and foot prints on a canvas with paint.
“They’ve also made some beautiful little blankets and booties and baby toys,” Linda said.
Caregivers are also working with the mums to educate them on the importance of early literacy experiences and reading to their babies.
“We’re about to receive a Communities for Children Book Box from a local charity, which will be set up at the house to help increase access to, and highlight the importance of, early literacy and learning so we’re all very excited about that,” Linda said.
“It’s so rewarding to see how far our young mums have come and we have been overwhelmed by the support we have continued to receive from the local community and St John of God Bendigo Hospital.
“Community fundraising was instrumental to getting the house up and running and we’re continuing to receive generous donations of essential items like cots, bassinets, high chairs, linen and baby clothes.
“Our mums have even been able to attend a children’s first aid session free-of-charge thanks to Gianna Centre Bendigo.”
“The difference all of this makes to the lives of these young women and their babies cannot be overstated and we are deeply grateful to everyone who has gotten behind the Program.”
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